If you’re thinking of hosting a kids birthday party at a local park in Los Angeles, certain features are a must—think lots of shade, a picnic area and convenient parking. The parks on our list have all that and then some (and, they’re a relative bargain compared to some indoor spaces to rent for kid’s birthdays). Read on for all the details for the best playgrounds for kid’s birthday parties in LA.
Griffith Park: The Party Corral & Southern Railroad
Why It Rocks: While Travel Town is one of the most beloved birthday party destinations for kids in the city just around the bend, is an equally exciting option? The Party Corral and Southern Railroad. For two hours, kids are treated to an old-west themed party which includes a covered picnic area, a visit from miniature farm animals, and one pony and a handler. To cap off the celebration, board the Southern Railroad train for a scenic mile-long ride that will please everyone at your party. How’s that for having your cake and eating it too?
How to Book: For up to 15 kids, the rate is $375 for 2 hours. Additional time can be added for a fee. Train tickets are $3 per ride but are available at a discount when purchased in bulk.
Bonus Tips: Parties looking for that little extra something, can request a visit from Snowball the resident unicorn!
4400 Crystal Springs Dr.
Pacific Palisades: Rustic Canyon Recreation Center
Why It Rocks: Excellent climbing trees provide plenty of shade on Rustic Canyon's playground, which also has picnic tables for grown-ups to rest while kids run around. There's also basketball courts, a baseball diamond, and BBQ pits.
How to Book: Applications for use of the facilities can be downloaded on the LA Parks website.
Bonus Tips: There's indoor space available as a rain plan and plenty of parking in the Rec Center's lot.
601 Latimer Rd
West LA: Glen Alla Park
Why It Rocks: Enclosed Glen Alla Park is perfect for pirate tots looking to escape with their treasure. The playground features all the usual park amenities plus the chance for kiddos to daydream about life on the high seas. Sure, little ones might incessantly scream “ahoy matey” for the duration of the party but who cares when you are living your best life on the high seas safely on land?
How to Book: Jumpers are permitted but must be provided by an approved city vendor. Permits for any picnic area can be reserved by calling (310) 836-1040.
Bonus Tips: For those parents and non-pirates looking to take a load off, there’s a large grassy area surrounding the playground just outside the gate. Bring some blankets or a lawn chair for ultimate comfort.
4601 Alla Rd.
Marina del Rey
Manhattan Beach: Polliwog Park
Why It Rocks: Kiddos go hog wild for Polliwog! South Bay’s premiere park sits on 18 acres of land which features grassy knolls, picnic areas/grills, a pond, and gazebos. But the biggest draw here by far is the curly wurly slides at the playground. With tons of party-perfect areas to choose from, throwing your little one’s next birthday shindig here is a no-brainer.
How to Book: Locals get dibs on dates and can book 6 months in advance. Call reservations (310) 802-5448 to inquire about the availability for any one of the eight picnic tables and three gazebos.
Bonus Tips: Check out the pond gazebo if you’re looking for easy access to both the pond and playground. Bouncers aren’t allowed on site, so for kids looking to burn off a little more energy, we suggest renting the climbing wall across the street at Manhattan Heights park.
1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Los Angeles: Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Why It Rocks: This low-key gem offers partygoers the chance to revel in breathtaking views of the city while enjoying the tranquility of a Japanese garden and hiking trails. Parents and kids alike will be awestruck by the magnificence of this massive 338-acre park. With options to BBQ, run (around the playground), and jump (in that bounce house) all day long, this park boasts the best of all worlds.
How to Book: To book one of the four picnic areas near the playground, give the office a shout at 323-298-3660.
Bonus Tips: This park is as uncrowded as they come, even on weekends. Take advantage of the breathing room and let the kids roam free.
4100 S La Cienega Blvd.
Pacific Palisades: Will Rogers State Historic Park
Why It Rocks: Got a little cowpoke on your hands? Set up a birthday party at Will Rogers State Park where you can rent picnic tables, tour the namesake's home, and if your time it correctly, have an actual polo game playing in the background (at least during the summer months).
How to Book: The rangers at WRSHP arrange for picnic table reservations, and there's a fee of $100 to reserve five tables or more. Call 310-454-8212 x101 for reservations.
Bonus Tips: There's plenty of shade to keep little ones cool on hot da. There are also numerous trails to explore and a big open lawn for lots of running around.
Griffith Park: Travel Town
Why It Rocks: There’s two, there’s four, there’s six, there are eight...reasons Travel Town has been a birthday party park staple for over fifty years. With model trains to watch, vintage trains to climb, and a real mini train to ride, there’s never a dull moment for train-loving kids. Enjoy the outdoor picnic area or rent an actual train car (air-conditioned!). The staff help with everything and are super friendly.
How to Book: Call 323-662-5874 two-to-three months in advance to rent a train car (fitting either thirty or forty guests). You'll get the train for three hours which includes tables, chairs, and a refrigerator inside. All picnic areas outside can be reserved as well between 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. (no bouncers).
Bonus Tips: Take your train party to the next level by having Travel Town’s staff bring mats, building pieces and over 50 train sets for your little engineers to chug during your party. Call the gift shop at 323-668-0104 ext. 11 for this service which costs extra. When packing your party gear, keep in mind you’ll be walking pretty far with it—ask for the dollies they have available to borrow. The regular train ride (two laps around) costs $3 but you can get a lower group rate for twenty or more tickets at $2.75 each.
5200 Zoo Dr.
Highland Park: York Park
Why It Rocks: Built on the grounds of an old gas station this park is where it's at for city slicker tots. A bright teal and orange, shock-absorbent surface keeps kids bouncing along this quaint urban jungle. Kids here will have the time of their lives chasing each other through the gigantic tree trunk and zooming down the snake slide. The play structure is also equipped with monkey bars and climbing surfaces. Explorers and Superheroes in your kid's crew can scale rocks to the top of the tree or slink across a webbed rope. Revved-up kiddos can take a breather at the base of the tree trunk and pound on the musical instruments until their ready for more action.
How to Book: To inquire about and apply for a permit, contact: (323) 255-0373.
Bonus Tips: Is your kid over cupcakes and cake? We got you covered: Donut Friend is just a block away!
4948 York Blvd.
Santa Monica: Tongva Park
Why It Rocks: A perennial favorite of Westside families who frequent this gorgeous oasis, Tongva Park offers a legendary splash pad (closed at the moment for maintenance) that will keep kiddos giddy and entertained all party long. For those kids who prefer drier land, toddlers and grade-schoolers can climb up the soft turf hill and go bumpety bump down the roller bar slide. This park is a sensory explosion for little ones looking to party!
How to Book: No permit or reservation (read: money) required! All patrons must abide by park rules, and as long as your party is under 150 guests, you’re welcome to show up whenever you like and decorate as you wish. Picnic tables are available first come first served, so arrive early to snag a couple.
Bonus Tips: Bounce houses are not allowed on the premises but with a park this close to Santa Monica Pier, who needs one?! Make sure you bring food or have the party catered as grilling is not permitted on-site.
1615 Ocean Ave.
Santa Monica: Clover Park
Why It Rocks: On any given Sun., there are at least five different birthday parties bumping at once at Clover Park. But with a park this size (including 16 BBQ grills), everyone has enough space to spread out and get in on the fun. Toddler birthday parties with a few activities and games (a pinata is a must) are best served here. While parents looking for a little friendly competition can get their volley on over at the sand court.
How to Book: Reserve your space for 4 hours, (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Santa Monica residents pay $77 while non-residents pay $116. Additional hours can be reserved for a fee.
Bonus Tips: Street parking is a cinch to snag along the perimeter of the park.
2600 Ocean Park Blvd.
Malibu: Malibu Bluffs Park
Why It Rocks: Guests, both young and old(er) will have the time of their lives at six-acre Malibu Bluffs Park, which overlooks the Pacific. The playground is both toddler and big kid approved and there is a soccer field and baseball diamonds. Kiddos will have a field day exploring the hiking trails and discovering the whale watching deck equipped with telescopes.
How to Book: Facility rentals can be submitted via email, fax or mailed.
Bonus Tips: Unlike most city and state parks in LA County, Malibu Bluffs Park allows beer and wine (must be consumed in a rented tent) on the premises—cheers to that!
24250 Pacific Coast Hwy.
Calabasas: Juan Bautista de Anza Park
Why It Rocks: It’s all fun and games until that valley heat sears the frosting off your kid’s Peppa Pig cake. Keep everyone (and everything) from melting down and book the multi-purpose room with air conditioning. This facility checks off all the boxes (clean, spacious and vibrant) and even provides friendly staffers to set up the room. Meanwhile, kids can kick it outside while you keep a watchful eye on them and those dazzling panoramic views.
How to Book: You can book the multipurpose room for $65 per hour (up to 75 guests) by calling 818-880-6461.
Bonus Tips: For the youngest party people (read: crawlers), there’s a side room where you can set up activities and toys at no additional charge!
3701 Lost Hills Rd.
If you’re looking for creative ways to celebrate while social distancing, check out our roundup of virtual birthday party ideas for LA kids.
—Janelle Connor & Leigh Crandall
feature image via iStock